I had my last follow up with my spine surgeon Dr Frisch yesterday. He has referred me to pain management since I still have enough pain to interfere with my life. My appointment is January 30th so he gave me RX refills to last until then. I have mixed feelings about that since I had hoped to no longer need pain relief this far after surgery. In a way it makes me feel like I am not strong enough or do not have enough willpower to push through the pain. I am sincerely hoping it will not be a long term thing. I stopped wearing the brace a month ago so my core muscles are getting stronger without the support of the brace. The scar continues to improve, I was really worried right after because it was a shocking sight to me. It continues to appear thinner and lighter and I know that is something that will take months to see the final result of. I am planning to start Mederma scar treatment gel, I worked in dermatology for 10 years and that is the only product that has been proven to work in clinical trials. I continue to use the spinalogic bone growth stimulator every day. It the easiest to remember if I do it when I get home from work, it takes 30 minutes to finish. To my knowledge I will need to do this for 6 months. I am seriously trying to do everything I can do to promote complete healing so that I can have a better chance at a more pain free life after all is said is done. He told me yesterday to be patient and that it can take me up to a year to feel the full effect and feel like myself again and that gave me hope. All in all I feel that having the ALIF surgery was one of the best things I ever did for myself even with the complications I had, it was the only way to have a chance at a future with less pain. My level is between 3-6 at some point every day which is better than the 8-9 I was for so many years especially this past one. Also my company changed insurance companies as of 1-1-13 so it was a good thing I did it when I did or I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. I was lucky to have such a good insurance policy, in the end I only had to pay $1500 total out of pocket this year for everything that was done for me and for that I am grateful. Here’s to a positive 2013! Happy New Year!
The newest addition to my recovery from the ALIF surgery is a CMF Spinalogic bone growth stimulator . It is worn like a belt around my waist for 30 minutes a day. I will need to wear it for at least the next 6 months. According to what I have read about it, it creates a magnetic field that apparently increases the rate of new bone growth by 21% vs patients who do not use one. It is really not hard to fit it into my day, right now I usually put it on after my shower but before I get completely dressed, in fact I am wearing it right now over my bathrobe. After I return to work, I plan to put it on as soon as I get home. You simply wrap it around your waist like a belt and there is a circular part that sits right over the discs that you had fused and fasten the Velcro so it fits snugly, then you press and hold the button on the controller which is attached by what looks like an old style phone cord until it beeps. Then it times your session and beeps again after 30 minutes. That separate piece has a belt clip that attaches to the belt part so you can walk around during the treatment. The only thing I notice when wearing it is a feeling of warmth on my lower back, there is no pain involved. It was covered by my insurance company which is BCBS Anthem but they required a prior authorization by my surgeon’s office which took about 2 weeks to complete. I believe it is probably very expensive for people who do not have insurance or whose insurance company doesn’t cover it because I have seen them on Ebay for $200-500. I just got it this week and have not missed a day yet. The nurse that told me about it told me that I am to bring it with me to my follow up appointment and that they will check the timer unit and it will tell them if I have used it faithfully or not. Of course as far as I am concerned if I don’t use it I would only be holding up my own recovery and I want to do everything I can to regain my normal activity level so what would be the point of cheating? This is what the device looks like:
So between this, the daily walks for at least 20 min and taking extra calcium supplements I think I am doing all I can to promote the bone growth between the vertebrae that were fused (L4-S1 in my case which are the lowest 2 discs in the lumbar spine). I have also added a new supplement called Dolomite powder by KAL. It contains 1100mg/110% of calcium, 2mg/11% iron and 630mg/150% magnesium. I am mixing 1tsp into OJ and a little milk to make it palatable since its rather chalky, this mixture makes it taste like a creamsicle. I take this in addition to the OsCal calcium supplement with D3. It contains 600iu/150% of vitamin D3 and 500mg/50% of calcium. The drawback with all this calcium with my pain meds causes Miralax to be a daily supplement as well since these things all cause constipation. I hope all of this information helps those of you out there going through the same condition as me and I know there are a lot of us. If we all help by sharing information hopefully we can look forward to a pain free and more active future! Thanks as usual for reading and please feel free to share your own stories or tips by commenting on this post.